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The Safe Haven: Where Social Anxiety Cannot Reach Us

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Away from the civilized society, away from the sounds of the bustling city streets, and cars honking continuously, away from the mass crowds of human souls; this is where those like us with anxiety retreat. We retreat into our own habitat, into our homes, locked away, or out into nature where no one can reach us, and where all of our anxieties have disappeared for the time being. It is something that we have been known to do.

It is hard to determine what actually causes anxiety because for each person it is different. It can be caused by traumatic childhood memories, or it could be just a part of their personality. Mine is more along the lines of being part of my personality, and also part of what I had gone through while growing up in a town that looked down on me. And to this day, my anxiety can get pretty rough, but there are days where I can handle it very well, then there are days where I cannot handle it.

For those who do not live with social anxiety (which is what I have), here is an example of a situation in my everyday life: I am at a function (book reading, work, or even a get-together with co-workers, etc.) and on the outside, I seem happy and cheery, however, my voice slightly shakes just as my hands, and my mind is racing a thousand miles an hour, trying to look for an exit. Sometimes those around me, who know about this, will check on me and will say something to calm my anxiety or just make me laugh. And I am grateful for when they do that. However, there are times where I cannot handle it and there are times where even someone with good intentions will be unable to calm me down. Another example: At work, the phones are constantly ringing, and I talk to a lot of people throughout the day. While on the outside I seem okay, and somewhat normal, on the inside my heart is racing, and the thought of answering the phone makes my chest tighten.

On the days where I or anyone else out there that also lives with anxiety gets to the point of being unable to handle our anxiety, we retreat. In the first paragraph, I had described that we retreat to our homes or into nature, and that is very much true. Like everything else in life, everyone is different, and how and where we retreat will be completely different. One person will retreat into nature and just go camping for a few days, another will just stay inside on a weekend and not talk to anyone.

I have done both of these, however, for the most part, I end up staying at home, where I can stay in bed or chill out in a different part of the house with a puzzle, a book, movie, or music. I will wear my pajamas, dance like a fool, or just focus on a puzzle for hours, enjoying the silence, enjoying the fact that my anxiety has been put to sleep, at least until I venture outside and be surrounded by a lot of people. Throughout the years I have learned to manage my anxiety, and sometimes it does get the best of me, however, I have learned to embrace the chaotic part of my mind that makes me want to turn on my heels and run for the hills, thus making my life with social anxiety somewhat easier.

Do you have social anxiety? Do you have a different type of anxiety? If so, how do you cope with it? How do you retreat?

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White Lace (Poem)

I am here,
Waiting for you to come back,
Come back from the hallow halls,
Dressed in your three piece suit,
That you left in.

Not prepared,
Completely scared,
You left me at the altar,
Dressed in white lace,
With tears streaming down my face
As I waited for you.

Guess I’ll have to wait for you,
But not tonight,
While I’m dressed in white lace,
Certainly not with makeup smeared across,
Leaving the crowd with stunned faces.

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The Strong Women Your Daughter Should Read

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I will be the first to admit that I read the Twilight series when it came out when I was in high school, and quite honestly, I regret it. The series has a poor plot, no strong characters, and the writing was horrifying. The same can be said for the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy. I could barely make it to page five in the first Grey book and I wanted to vomit. These trilogy books lack in strong female characters for the female readers to look up to.

Now, when I have a daughter, she will be encouraged to read and be encouraged to let her imagination run wild just like my parents did with me. She will be encouraged to read anything she wants — and I know some of you will automatically say, “reading Twilight will be better than reading nothing at all”. And to a point, I would agree with you. However, before my own daughter goes to a second hand bookstore and finds a beaten up copy way in the back and forgotten (that is the future I see for both of these trilogy books), I would hope that she has been introduced to strong, relatable, female characters before then.

The following list is not complete, because it is an ever growing list of my favorites. These strong, relatable, everyday ordinary ladies are everything and everyone — mothers, daughters, teachers, students, warriors, scholars, princesses, Queens, sorcerers, gypsies, and adventurers. They are perfectly flawed and at the same time they are perfect. Keep in mind, some of these stories have happy endings, and some of them have sad endings. Not all stories are created alike.

1. Nory Ryan from Nory Ryan’s Song
2. Anne from Persuasion
3. Lucrezia Borgia from The Vatican’s Daughter (also a real person)
4. Morgan Le Fay from Mists of Avalon
5. Christine Bolz from The Plum Tree
6. Esther Greenwood from The Bell Jar
7. Janie May Crawford from Their Eyes Were Watching God
8. Ultima from Bless Me, Ultima
9. Lucie Manette from A Tale of Two Cities
10. Emma from The Forever Queen
11. Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame
12. Antigone from Antigone
13. Maria from For Whom the Bell Tolls
14. Natasha from War and Peace
15. Calypso, Penelope, and Athena from Odysessy
16. Helen, Athena, Thetis from The Iilad
17. Cordelia from King Lear
18. Jane from Jane Eyre
19. Dorothea Brooke from Middlemarch
20. Sonia (Sophia) from Crime and Punishment
21. Moira, Offred, Serena Joy from The Handmaid’s Tale
22. Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables
23. Celie from The Color Purple
24. Marguerite Johnson from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

This is just a short list of strong, quirky female characters that any woman at any age can relate to. Keep in mind, this list goes on for miles. I had to pick the top twenty four that I thought were not only my favorite, but also that I could relate to on different levels. Check out each story, and see the strength and the trials that each of these characters must face. You will certainly find yourself relating to them more than you would ever have thought.